A beautiful Christmas song with a beautiful story from The Carpenters

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The Carpenters’ “Merry Christmas Darling” is one of my favorite Christmas songs. Karen Carpenter had a knack for making you feel the song she was singing was being sung just for you.

There is a great story behind this song but first I have to tell you why I feel a little closer to this Christmas song than to those sung by others. When I walked into my dorm at NC State University, one of the first things my roommate told me was that he enjoyed listening to the Carpenters every night before falling asleep on his cassette player.

But my roommate was very respectful and told me he would be happy to wear his headphones if I wanted. I told him it wasn’t necessary because I also liked carpenters. So, for the next two years, Karen Carpenter sang to me to sleep every night.

In the new book “Carpenters: The Musical Legacy”, Richard Carpenter is quoted as saying of himself and Karen, “We felt like we were born to play Christmas music.” It seems that the hand of fate was at work with “Merry Christmas Darling”.

Frank Pooler, choir director at California State University-Long Beach where Karen and Richard attended school, wrote this song in 1944 when he was 18 for a girl he had fallen in love with and found. was planning to give it to him as a Christmas present. Sadly, their romance hit the rocks before he could give it to her.

Pooler had pretty much forgotten about the song until 20 years later, in 1966, when Richard and Karen were his students and played concerts all over town. They were looking for something different from the usual holiday songs and asked Pooler, their favorite teacher, if he had any ideas.

Pooler told them about the song but told them he wasn’t thinking too much about the melody anymore. Richard, who was a master at this sort of thing, worked on the tune for about 15 minutes to give it a new one, and the rest, as they say, is history. The Carpenters version of the song was released in the fall of 1970 as a single and achieved Gold Record status.

Richard and Karen (as long as she lived) have always remained close to Professor Pooler, and he was the conductor of the Carpenters for a time. Professor Pooler has always loved hearing the song and said it brought him back to winter in Onalaska, Wisconsin, where he lived when he wrote it.

Karen and Richard Carpenter pose with their Grammys at the 14th Annual Grammy Awards 1971. photo AP

The best part of the story, which I read in an article written by Randy Erickson in La Crosse Tribune on December 23, 2005, was about Professor Pooler making contact with this girl he loved and had written the song for so many years. ‘years ago:

A few years ago, he decided to look for his old flame, the one he had written “Merry Christmas, honey” for, and he found her. She lived in Palm Springs, California with her husband, a famous musician.

He arranged a visit with her and finally “Merry Christmas Darling” came. “Did you already know that I wrote this song for you,” Pooler asked his former flame.

“No,” she said. “Now I have a treasure. “

Thanks to Richard and Karen Carpenter and Frank Pooler, we all now have a treasure.

Richard, who still speaks lovingly about his sister, said she is always in the Christmas spirit and lives through her songs. And because of that, we can hear him singing to us once again this Christmas: “But I still have one wish to make, a special one for you.” Merry Christmas, my dear… ”

Rick Dominy, a lifelong fan of Carpenters, is a resident of Gaston County and can be reached at 704-675-4862 or [email protected]

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